Sunday, February 27, 2011

Completely unrelated things that happened at the grocery store. Alternatively titled "The Most Expensive Cucumber in the World."

I had planned to write a very serious post about parenting issues (don't worry it's coming! I know you're worried. Don't worry. Really.) and instead got distracted by things that happened at the grocery store on two separate occasions this weekend.

Thing 1:

I was standing in line at a certain organic grocery store in the city. The woman ahead of me had placed her items on the conveyor belt, and the teller had stopped to tell her something.

"Just so you know, those cucumbers cost $7.99 each." She said.

I laughed out loud. I may have snorted a bit too, I'm not sure.

"Why are they so expensive?" The customer asked, aghast.

"Um... I dunno..." The teller replied, helpfully. "They're from Mexico, and they have this special coating..."

Uh. What?

"Bargain!" I blurted. "They've traveled thousands of miles and they have a special coating!!"

The customer nodded at me with a sort of smile, probably hoping I would shut up now. She quietly asked the teller to please remove one of her cucumbers.

I was still laughing when I left the store.

I should probably learn to keep my opinions to myself.

Thing 2:

A day later at another, not-very-organic store, I was grocery shopping again. On my way to get an insanely inexpensive cucumber, I wandered into the clothes section. Sidetracked, I wandered off to look at a sweater, then accidentally returned to the wrong cart and proceeded to walk half way across the store with it.

It wasn't until I went to throw a block of cheese in the cart a few minutes later, that I noticed nothing in the cart belonged to me.

Cue inward screaming. 

My purse was on the other cart, and my groceries, and my hat and gloves.

I ran up and down aisles like a mother in one of those movies who's lost her child. Back in the clothes section, I spotted my cart. Beside it was a rather bewildered looking man who saw me approaching. I pointed him in the direction of his cart (hopefully), and quietly went on with my shopping.

How was your weekend?
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Diet in Disguise.

I don't like diets. Mainly because they don't work. The way I see it, this is what happens: You starve yourself for a few weeks, lose a bit of weight, then congratulate yourself by eating a cream cake and a drinking bottle of wine and gain it all back again.

But, given the current curviness of my curvy bits, something needs to be done. My body just doesn't shed the pounds as easily as it used to when I was twenty five. And, according to a couple of those height/weight body mass calculation web sites, I could do with losing a few pounds. About fifteen, actually. I'd be happy with ten.

Feeling suddenly inspired to take action, I developed a diet healthy eating plan for myself.

The general idea is to keep it simple, be sensible, and not deprive myself of everything.

- Breakfast: Cereal, fruit or eggs.
- Lunch: Salad or soup.
- Mid-afternoon snack: Fruit, veggies or nuts. 
- Dinner: Whatever everyone else is eating.
- After dinner: No dessert, snacks or wine except on the weekend.

Seems reasonable, right?


On day one, I did pretty well up until after preschool pick-up, which coincided with my four o'clock sugar-low, and I then convinced myself that I needed a mini butter tart. And I can be very convincing.


That evening I accidentally (I swear!) ate three chocolate truffles and had a glass of wine.


Day two, I was doing really well until the afternoon. By 3:30 pm I thought I was going to faint from lack of carbs and fats. So I had to stop for an emergency sandwich on my way to work. It *might* have had a bit of mayonnaise in it.


After work I was tired and gave into a glass of wine. (How many calories can a glass of wine have anyway?) And then when I wasn't looking J poured me another. So really, it was all his fault.


On day three of my diet healthy eating plan, I have concluded that people who don't eat carbs are demented. Or dementors. Or something.

As part of this madness plan, I started recording every single thing I eat. That means every time I sneak a piece of cheese from the fridge, every time I take a bit of my kids' snack - it goes into the book of judgment. And, quite frankly, it's been shocking to see how much I snack during the day.

So, to conclude:

- I eat too much food
- Food is awesome and diets suck
- Especially carbs and butter
- I should build a palace out of butter, carbs and sugar and live there
- People who diet must be permanently on the verge of passing out
- Healthy eating plans are really just diets in disguise
- I still don't understand why wine is fattening.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The other parents stood and stared.

This post is for all the mums and dads who have experienced the humiliation of a public meltdown at the hands of their children. For those whose usually-well-tempered kids have transformed into irate chimpanzees in the middle of the grocery store. And especially for those who've lost their shit in a place they afterward really wish they hadn't.

However much you convince yourself, you are not alone.

I know this, because this afternoon at my son's preschool, I turned. From perfectly nice mum who seems normal enough and probably has well-organized kitchen cupboards and underwear drawers, to, holy crap mother of god stay away from that crazy woman with the wild eyes that's about to rip a limb from one of her kids, person. 

All in the space of about five minutes.

I had gone to pick up my older son from preschool. After class was dismissed, some of the kids decided it would be fun to leap around the gym, walloping each other with giant noodles. Not to be a noodle-party-pooper, I allowed the boys ten minutes to partake in the noodle walloping, then called their two minute warning. And their one minute warning.

Unfortunately as I've come to understand, my warnings have little impact lately. I chased my boys from one end of the gym to the other, while other kids obeyed their mothers' gentle instructions with not a bat of an eyelid. Finally I grabbed one son, and in my most serious, no-messing-around voice, told him it was time to leave.

There followed a lot of thrashing about, trying to pull snow boots onto kicking feet, coats over fighting arms, and some more chasing. I was getting tired. There were angry protests, shrieks, promises and threats. Thirty minutes after arriving to pick my son up, we still were not leaving.

I picked up my lighter son and headed for the door, telling my older son as calmly as I could, that if he wasn't going to put his coat on and come with me right now, he was going to have to stay at preschool, alone.

That's when I noted one of the mothers glance over at me.

I told my son, if he didn't come, he might have to stay at preschool all night. By himself.

More furtive glances.

I started out the door. My older son - seeing my humourless face and realizing he, in fact, did not want to be left at school all night alone, bolted through the door with me. We were out. One boy with coat, one without. I wrestled my younger son into the car, and then returned for the other. All the while I could feel the eyes.

I drove home feeling absolutely awful. I wondered how I'd become the mother who yelled and made threats and couldn't even get her kid's coat on before exiting into the cold. I felt bad about the way I'd handled the situation, and bad that other parents had witnessed it. I wondered how I could have handled things differently.

Of course, once we were home, the kids were over it within seconds - completely over it, asking if they could watch a movie, eat popsicles, ride dinosaurs, and what was for dinner.

As for me, I was still suffering an hour later with a heavy heart - that I'd lost control in public, that other mothers were judging me. And maybe they were. And maybe they weren't. Maybe they were just watching me with a mix of wonder and understanding, having been in the same situation once or twice themselves.

Either way, I felt like crap.

But then I called a friend, and was grateful for her kind words and reassurances. And I tweeted and was grateful for the people who tweeted back telling me they too had been in the same boat. 

And so - a message to any parent who has felt guilty for temporarily losing control, or like they didn't handle a situation in the most admirable way: It's okay. Other parents have been there - other parents who are usually calm and mild-mannered, and who don't make a habit of yelling in public. None of us have the answers, and no one has the right to judge.

And with regard to those people who stand by and stare at you as you wrestle your kids into the car or carrying them kicking and screaming through a crowded room? Chances are, either they've been there and understand your predicament (even if they don't tell you), or they're judging you, and not worth your effort.

(Or, in not-so polite terms, they can screw off.)
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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Perpetual State of Survival Mode.

I have an amazing knack for finding excuses. I can't go running today because the sky has this ominous look about it / I needed that piece of 5000 calorie cake because I was having a bad day / I had to buy five new pairs of pink polka-dot socks because my sock drawer was looking sad and dull and needed cheering up. 

Excuses for everything. Excuses all around. Weeeeeeeee.

Lately (and when I say lately, I mean approximately the past three years), my supreme excuse has been - I can't do XYZ because I'm still in "survival mode".

Survival Mode is the state in which you're coping rather than thriving. You're getting through the day on a thread of sanity, relying on a constant stream of quietly muttered reassurances that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY, REPEAT. You treat yourself to another chocolate from your secret stash, and perhaps lock yourself in the bathroom with a glass of wine at four o'clock, because that's what you need to do to get through the day.

In survival mode, you don't have time for things like eating healthily, exercising or resting. Your focus is on getting through the day alive. It's been my get-out-of-jail-free card for such a long time now - my reason to end all reasons for not getting around to doing a many, many things.

The problem is, I think this excuse might go on forever. Because after this phase of survival, there'll be another, equally taxing phase. And after that, another.

And then the other night, as I was snacking on some leftover valentines chocolates, something snapped. I thought THIS HAS TO STOP.

The truth is I'm not in survival mode anymore: I sleep through the night now (mostly); I have a little free time here and there; the kids are a little older and I'm a little less stressed. And therefore I have to stop using this excuse.

It's time! 

Time to start exercising and eating better! 

No more excuses!

From tomorrow, obviously.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guilty Pleasure Movies.

When I was younger I had this list of favourite movies. Only they weren't my favourite movies, they were a list of movies I thought should be my favourite movies - probably because they were impressive, or because I knew everyone else liked them.

Someone would ask me, and I'd answer Shaw Shank Redemption, or the Godfather (both of which I do really like), or some other big name film.

I suppose as I get older, I begin to care less about what I should like, and more about the things I genuinely like. Even if they're so embarrassing I have to whisper them.

So when, on Valentines evening, J asked me which movie I really wanted to see, I told him the truth.

You've Got Mail. 

I don't care what you say, or how rubbish you think it is. I LOVE IT.

Some things you should probably not admit out loud, least of all on the Interwebs. But I don't care. I love Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks together in this movie. I love the old fashioned love story. I love the cheesy lines. I love the size of their old-school lap tops that look more like brief cases than portable computers. I love the quaint little childrens' book store Meg Ryan's character owns that's so movie-styled it's completely unrealistic.

It may not be my all-time favourite movie (it's really the Godfather) (just kidding), but it is my go-to comfort film - the one I'd probably pick if I was sick and in bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a duvet over me, or if I was alone one evening with a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates.

And it's a welcome change from some of the modern movies we've been watching lately: Inception; The Town; The Social Network.

What about you? What are your guilty pleasure movies?

* p.s. Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win some super fabulous awesome lip glosses from Rocky Mountain Soap Company. You just have to be from Canada or the States to enter. Ends Friday.*

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Rocky Mountain Soap Company Review and Giveaway.

***Winner Update***

Congratulations Capital Mom! 

Hope you enjoy using the products.


I've been a fan of Rocky Mountain Soap Company since I moved to Calgary six years ago. Their bath and body products are 100% natural and they look, smell and feel delicious. They're famous for their handmade soaps (I feel deprived if there aren't some in my house at all times), but they also make a whole range of wonderful bath and body products.

So I was thrilled when they sent me their new line of lip products to try out. The Lip Service collection includes glosses, scrubs and lip plumps. Being a huge fan of lip glosses, I was eager to try them out.

First I tried the Peppermint Lip Scrub, which gently exfoliates the lips without being harsh. It has a lovely, subtle minty scent and left my lips really smooth. I followed it up with the Peppermint Lip Gloss - a light, fresh gloss that gave a lovely shine to my lips and again smelled gorgeous.

Next the Cinnamon Lip Plump - a spicy lip plump designed to stimulate circulation with hints of cinnamon and chili, to give lips a fuller look. I love this. It left a nice tingly sensation on my lips for a few moments and smelled great.

Lastly, the glosses - I tried all of them at different points during the week. The Nude Lip Gloss gave a lovely, natural shine without being too over-the-top glossy - perfect for day time. I wore the Blush Lip Gloss when I wanted a hint of colour, it gave my lips a sweet rosy glow. And my favourite was the Berry Lip Gloss, with a deeper berry colour and a beautiful pomegranate scent. Yummy.

All in all? I'm hooked.

Want to win a set of these for yourself? 

The nice people at Rocky Mountain Soap Company are generously offering one reader the chance to win this set.

All you need to do is leave me a comment here.

And you need to be from Canada or the US.

The giveaway will end on Friday 18th February at midnight (Mountain Time). A winner will be randomly selected and contacted. Please make sure I know how to get in touch with you.

Good luck!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

The Amazing Mind-Boggling Parents of Several.

I'm always stunned when someone tells me they have more than two kids. By the expression on my face, they may as well have told me they grew an extra arm and used it to build a rocket and fly to the moon. My jaw drops, and I take on a look of incredulity, while I scope them out and try to see whether they possess any super-human characteristics.

I think, in my head, there's a scale of jaw-dropping-sock-knocking-off-ness.

1 or 2 kids = a sympathetic nod and a sigh of understood weariness.

3 kids = might as well have scaled Mount Killmanjaro with a giant orangutan on their back.

4 kids = might as well have crossed an African desert barefoot for six months with just one bottle of water, rescued an endangered species and built a hospital with whatever was lying around.

5 kids = must have supernatural powers because really what other explanation is there.

So imagine my reaction when, yesterday, a mum I see every day at preschool pick-up let slip she had five kids.


No, wait. Think about it.

FIVE. Children.

I think my jaw dropped to my chest, as I stared with a new feeling of awe and admiration at this woman who always looks so put together and calm.

Turns out she has some help, but still, with five kids, nothing is easy.

Funny how bewildering it is to me - having that many kids in this age. A hundred years ago it wouldn't have been at all uncommon for someone to have five or more children. But people still do it today (evidently), and more importantly, survive.

As for me, most of the time I feel like I'm just about keeping my head above the water with two very busy and demanding young buys, with a far-off fantasy - probably to never be realized - of a third child. And even that seems impossible.

Perhaps some people just manage chaos better than others.
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nickles and Dimes.

One thing I love about the weekend is the ability to take a shower alone. During the week, the kids follow me into the bathroom, pressing their noses up to the glass and asking me relentless questions on random topics such as what's for lunch, why the sky is blue, and when they're next going to see Santa.

So at the weekend I make the most of showering on my own, while the kids have someone else to keep them entertained. I take a lovely long time, pausing under the hot water, perhaps applying a body scrub, lathering my hair for far too long and generally enjoying the luxury of peace and quiet and aloneness.

Because as we all know, privacy more or less disintegrates when we become parents. 

A few mornings ago after my shower, I was getting dressed and my son looked up at me and innocently asked,

"Mummy, are those your nickles?"

"Yes honey, those are." I replied, quickly hauling my bra and t-shirt on before any more comments arose.

A minute later.

"Mommy, where are my nickles?" Tugging his t-shirt up and looking down.

"Where are they mummy?"

"They're right there." I say, pointing.

He got up and stared into the mirror.


"Why are your nickles bigger than mine?"

I paused, not sure how to answer, and then responded with something about girls' "nickles" being bigger than boys "nickles". Really - what kind of utterly crap answer was that? He looked confused and I quickly changed the topic to what we were having for breakfast.

As I was spreading peanut butter on toast I realized, these questions are the start of a whole onslaught of body / gender questions, which I am not ready for.

Even more worrying, what happens in the future when someone asks him for a nickle?
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Red Lipstick and Cadillacs.

I don't own a red lipstick, I rarely wear figure-hugging clothes, and the last pair of high heeled shoes I owned wound up collecting dust on a shelf high up in a wardrobe. 

Which brings me to my question: Where has glamour gone, and where can I get some?

An odd question, for a cold, gray Monday morning in February. Perhaps it's the time of year. I've made it through several months of cold and snow, and I'm tired of seeing people dressed only in shades of gray and black. I'm ready to tell winter to Bite Me.

Or, more likely, it's because I've just finished watching all four seasons of the TV show Mad Men. Three years after everyone else watched it and talked about it, we started, and became completely hooked.

I'm sorry Lost, you just moved into second place.

The show has left an indelible mark on me. There are so many things I like: the familiar shenanigans of agency life (nothing changes); the flawed characters; the drinking of scotch in the morning; the acceptably full-figured women. But the thing I find the most alluring about the show, is the fashion. Or, more specifically, the glamour.

So much glamour oozing out of every scene. And, doesn't matter who it is, or what they're doing, there's an element of it in everyone. Betty driving to the store in her cashmere coat and pearls. Joan strutting through the office in one of her form-fitting dresses. Don meeting a client (or woman). Trudy, nine months pregnant and wearing the most incredibly bouncy, ruffly peach babydoll nightgown imaginable.

Not to get swept up in my TV bubble (too late), but Mad Men really captures the style of the era. There's something untouchable about the sixties. Fashion was revolutionary back then. Styles were new, but really new - not just a rehashed version of something we've already seen. It must have been so exciting.

I feel almost inappropriate or unrealistic - asking for glamour. It's not as though my weekly routine requires anything more than a pair of jeans and some comfortable shoes. Still, there has to be room in there somewhere, for a little. Right?

I don't even suit red lipstick, and I can't walk in high heels without looking like I'm in pain from the waist down, but screw it, I want some of that overly-feminine, swishy gown, polished hair-do, false eyelash, magic. Dammit I'm gonna get me some.

Images from

Are you glamorous? How do you do it?

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In a cold weather emergency, count to ten, then FREAK OUT.

At four a.m. I lurched forward and twisted around in bed, planting my feet on the floor. And as soon as they hit the floor I knew something was wrong. It was too cold. I went to my youngest son who was yelling at an unreasonably loud level for four in the morning. Afterward, eyes still half-closed, I went to the thermostat to see what the hell-is-actually-freezing-over was going on.

The thermostat said minus fifteen - a whole four degrees lower than it was set to. Shit, the furnace is broken. I cursed the furnace, then stood motionless in my pajamas, trying to figure out what to do. Be positive, be positive, think productive thoughts. I'm going to die in a freezing house. I jabbed the buttons to force the temperature up. Nothing. Up, up, up some more. Nothing. Shit. I went downstairs to the utility room and stood gormlessly looking at the furnace, as if I had an inch of a clue what to do with it.

The furnace wasn't speaking to me.

But there, stuck to the furnace, like a shiny ray of light, was an emergency number! Yaharoo.

I tiptoed back to the bedroom. "Don't get up..." I whispered, softly. And then, a little louder, more of a blurt: "But I think the furnace is BROKEN." And then in sort of a panicked squeak-shout "I'm going to call the emergency people!"

"Hold on." J said, hauling himself out of bed before I carried through with my threat.

"What are you doing?" I demanded, as though I had everything under control, and how could he possibly know what to do?

He went off with a look about him that told me he was going to sort it out.

The temperature was still dropping. Since J seemed to know what to do, I pulled on my big fluffy robe and crawled under the covers, shivering and wondering who was going let my mum and dad know when I died of hypothermia in the middle of the night. Maybe they would send my frozen pinkie as a token of their daughter.

I heard the back door open and close, and then footsteps outside the bedroom window, and then, this scraping, scraping... incessant scraping. Either a burglar was scraping his way through our house, or J was fixing something to do with the furnace. Then the back door again.

A few minutes later, as I was conjuring in my head all the bad things that might happen, I heard the furnace start up, and so I crossed my fingers and toes and anything that could be crossed. The fan started up, and lovely, wonderful, welcome heat began pumping into the house.


I later discovered it was minus twenty eight degrees when J had ventured out into the garden at four in the morning, to fix the frozen vent. Yeah, he's pretty awesome. And handy. And awesome.

Everything was fine, and warm, and there were no calls to the emergency furnace people.

My parents warned me about moving to Canada. I'm beginning to think maybe they had a point.

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